Dale Carnegie said that “the only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.”
You might not agree with him–that’s ok. You’ll have a lot of fruitless arguments and occasionally even feel like you’ve won, just to find out later the other person still believes what they started out believing, except now they don’t like you.
Disagreement and discussion are healthy. They imply that each party has a desire to risk having to learn, be corrected, or maybe even change themselves.
Arguments, though, are dead ends.
Both parties know where they stand and need to justify themselves. In an argument, what’s really on the line is each person’s ego. And the only rewards for winning are the loser’s resentment and your own self-satisfaction. You are best off avoiding arguments if you actually want to change people, and bridge the gulf between the other person being logically convinced of something vs. persuading them to really act upon it.
Let me clarify the title a little more:
Arguments are always a waste of time if your goal is to try and change someone and improve your world.
On the other hand, arguments about who has the best sports team or why the White Album is better than Sgt. Pepper’s are fun. The goal is to entertain, through a kind of public verbal jousting.
Arguing about politics is genuine fun for many people, either to affirm their own views even further, or because they like the intellectual stimulation. But let’s not pretend many of these arguments are had to try and change the other person for their benefit. The argument is all about you.
If you care enough about someone to change someone’s mind, stop arguing.
Put your ego aside and listen intently instead. Prove you care about the other person–after all, that’s why the stupid argument matters in the first place.
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